Underground Mining

Why mobile 3D scanners make so much sense in an underground mining environment

Underground MiningUnderground mines are an inherently challenging, and potentially hazardous, working environment. Dust, heat, and ventilation issues can make mining underground uncomfortable and inconvenient.

The confined spaces of tunnels and shafts also present a few unique challenges. One type of challenge faced by underground miners is being able to survey in an environment where there is usually no big picture visibility.

Unlike in the case of open-cast or pit mines, scanners can’t be mounted on a high vantage point like a tower or even attached to an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is flown over the mine.

The best way to gather survey data in an underground mining operation is to make use of a 3D laser scanner that has been purpose-built for underground use.

Stationary 3D laser scanners have been on the market and in use by mines for several years. While they do achieve their purpose of gathering data, using them is also a slow process. This is because these scanners are usually mounted on tripods.

The scanner/tripod combinations have to be manually disassembled, moved and reassembled dozens (or sometimes even hundreds) of times in order to scan a significant portion of an underground mining operation.

A better way to do things is to make use of mobile 3D laser mine scanners that can gather data while in motion. Usually, they are attached to an RTV or other small vehicle already in use within the underground mine. This vehicle can then be driven through the mine at a reasonable speed, and the mobile mine scanner will generate a 3D data point cloud with similar accuracy to its stationary counterparts, but in a fraction of the time.